Consuming Journalism: Throwing in the towel

Hong Kong, The New York Times, and The Grayzone

My Consuming Journalism feature is (was?) a fun side project that I hoped might be part of my freelance efforts while also helping people think more critically about what they read. We’re in a mess. The era of fast food information. See a headline and mindlessly share it with others without questioning the Who, What, Where, Why, When. I think the only thing that is going to get us out of it are the underpaid public school teachers and parents who teach their kids to ruthlessly question what they see, hear, and read.

I think I give up. It’s just too ugly.

I saw in The New York Times that there was a massive protest march in Hong Kong. Here’s the headline.

Hong Kong Protest, Largest in Weeks, Stretches Several Miles

Throngs of people poured into Hong Kong’s major thoroughfares for an authorized march meant to coincide with the United Nations’ Human Rights Day.

Here’s the full link -

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/07/world/asia/hong-kong-protests-us-chamber-commerce.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

It’s a strangely worded link. Is Hong Kong protesting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? No. I’ll come back to that. Maybe. (<— I didn’t get back to this after all. But now I am. The article mentioned that two American Chamber of Commerce folks were prevented from entering Macau, possibly as the result of Beijing pushing back against U.S. statements.)

The main photo for the article is incredible. It was shot by Lam Yik Fei. The photo shows “a sea of protesters, spread across several miles, filled major thoroughfares.”

According to The New York Times, the protestors were celebrating an election victory. I’ll go ahead and paste the opening paragraphs here.

HONG KONG — Hundreds of thousands of protesters, basking in a recent election victory by Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, poured onto the city’s streets on Sunday in one of the largest marches in weeks to pressure the government to meet demands for greater civil liberties.

The huge turnout was a reminder to China’s leader, Xi Jinping, that the monthslong campaign against his authoritarian policies still had broad support in Hong Kong despite a weakening economy and increasingly violent clashes between protesters and the police.

Tensions in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous territory, had eased somewhat in recent days, after pro-democracy advocates won a stunning victory in local elections two weeks ago, giving new hope to the movement.

Hundreds of thousands of protestors. I don’t know if The New York Times has correctly described the protestors’ motivations and objectives. But that’s a lot of people marching in Hong Kong.

The New York Times also explains that Beijing portrays the demonstrations and protests as being connected to foreign influence.

Despite the show of strength on Sunday, it is unlikely that the protesters will win further concessions from Beijing, which has worked to portray demonstrators as rioters colluding with foreign governments to topple the governing Communist Party.

There’s the word of the century again. Colluding. Are you starting to notice a trend? If something bad is happening, blame it on collusion and mysterious foreign sources. The United States, China, and Iran have all done that recently. Obviously, sometimes it’s true. The United States overthrew Mossadegh in 1953. I have a terrible off the top of my head memory, but Allende, too. Both CIA backed.

But sometimes it’s a sham. Let’s say you believe that thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of people are participating in protests in Hong Kong because of the machinations of U.S. diplomats, spooks, and mysterious NGOs. If so, you’ve really got to explain how that works. When it’s convenient for the narrative, the masses somehow always become powerless to exercise free will in the face of covert influence. It’s just as ridiculous when MSNBC is pushing it. The Russians targeted and got to the U.S. electorate in 2016. If you want to be on MSNBC, that’s all you’ve got to say. Shake your head, throw out some jargon, and say active measures.

I returned to The Grayzone to see how they’re covering the Hong Kong protests.

This is their most recent Hong Kong piece, from 4 December.

Ukrainian neo-Nazis flock to the Hong Kong protest movement

Ukrainian fascists who previously fought in a US-backed neo-Nazi militia joined the anti-China protests in Hong Kong, sharing their tactics and showing off their tattoos.

Here are the opening few paragraphs.

Neo-Nazis from Ukraine have flown to Hong Kong to participate in the anti-Chinese insurgency, which has been widely praised by Western corporate media and portrayed as a peaceful pro-democracy movement.

Since March 2019, Hong Kong has been the site of often-violent protests and riots that have run the city’s economy into the ground. The US government has funded many of the groups leading the pro-Western and anti-Beijing movement, and opposition leaders have coordinated closely with conservative political figures in Washington like Marco Rubio and Steve Bannon, lobbying for sanctions and other punitive measures against China.

Numerous delegations of far-right groups from across the world have traveled to Hong Kong to join the violent insurgency against Beijing, in which secessionists have attacked police with bowsand arrows, shot gasoline bombs out of catapults, and burned numerous people alive.

The Grayzone raises a good point about labels. Western media too often uses labels like pro-democracy. What does that mean? Is it a stamp of approval? You see it a lot with reporting about the Middle East, too. Words like moderate, secular, or radical painting with a huge brush, and with a word that can’t be quantified. Ryan is a moderate Catholic. Ok, what does that mean?

But the Grayzone definitely doesn’t allow for any gray areas. It’s all a Western plot driven by the military industrial intelligence complex. It portrays any mention of Russia as hysterical conspiracy theories based on falsehoods, lies, and Western government plots. I’m sure they’re right about some of them, and I think the current Red Scare in America is hysteria. If you watch MSNBC long enough, you’re going to be seeing Russians around every corner. But The Grayzone is just as bad when they can pin it on Western influences and meddling, which seems to be every damn time.

Is there a possibility that some of the protestors in Hong Kong are genuinely critical of Beijing? Nope, they’re all violent puppets of Western plots and Ukrainian neo-Nazis. Come on.

I think I’m done with this little project. I’m putting all my hopes on today’s public school teachers. I enjoyed it while it lasted. If anyone knows of some quality independent or smaller journalism, please let me know. I think it’s time for me to look more local. The macro coverage looks awful.